Not all justified homicides are created equal. In this tragic case, a perfect storm of bad luck resulted in the death of 52-year-old Gregory Miller in Gainesville, Florida. Miller, who had suffered a serious head injury during an accident over 30 years ago, had subsequently experienced seizures and other neurological problems for many years.
“He would have seizures at night where he would get up after deep coma-like sleep and walk around and go through the motions of a daily routine,” said Miller’s sister, Angela Christian. “He would not be awake. His eyes would be closed or partially opened on and off. I witnessed this many times.”
Christian believes that Miller was suffering one of these episodes early Sunday morning. He walked across a lawn from his apartment to another residence occupied by 71-year-old John Edmund Barbour. According to a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous, Barbour is a well-liked man who uses a walker to get around and relies on caregivers.
Miller opened Barbour’s front door and walked in. Police spokesman Ben Tobias says Miller was then shot by the home owner.
Police found Miller lying inside the living room, Tobias said. There were no signs of forced entry, he said. The man’s door was unlocked.
After Miller entered the condo, Tobias said Barbour had enough time to retrieve his gun, load it and warn Miller several times to leave the home before he eventually shot him.
Miller died as a result.
Prior to this event, Miller had been living with his sister for some time. In July, after they made a mutual decision that he could try living on his own again, he moved into his own apartment.
“He was excited to be like everyone else,” said Christian. Sadly, he apparently wasn’t ready to be like everyone else. Christian acknowledged that, saying of the shooting:
“It’s not the man’s fault because he didn’t know [about Miller’s medical problems] and he was probably scared.”
Christian also said, “I just don’t know why the first thought is to shoot. I wish he would have called the police. [Miller] would’ve probably been still standing there when they got there.”
Christian also believes that if Barbour’s door had been locked, Miller would still be alive. These feelings are understandable following her tragic loss.
There’s plenty of “woulda-coulda-shoulda” to go around in this case, but legally, it appears to be well within justified self-defense territory. Barbour hasn’t been arrested and is not expected to face any charges.